Discs Are Rated
review by Ren C.
Studio: Warner Brothers
Running Time: 136 minutes
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne
Written and Directed by: The Wachowski Brothers
Retail Price: $24.99
Features: Commentary, Documentaries, Featurettes,
Specs: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, Dolby Digital
5.1 English, English Subtitles
"Entertainment Weekly" did a story late last year stating
that 1999 will forever be known as the year that changed
movies, and this movie played a large part, without any
question. This movie quite frankly does a lot to challenge
our notions of reality. Could we be living in a fantasy
world and not even realize it? That is the question posed
to computer programmer Thomas Anderson (Reeves), who in one
part of his life is relatively benign, but in his other life
he is the computer hacker Neo. The authorities aren't
particularly fond of the fact that he has committed every
computer crime that a law exists for, and take him in.
However, Neo quickly realizes that he has an unseen ally.
He eventually escapes from the authorities with the help of
this ally and goes to see whom his benefactor is.
This benefactor turns out to be a man named Morpheus
(Laurence Fishburne), who frankly tells Neo that his entire
reality is a lie. He gives Neo two options, take the blue
pill and remain in his "never-never land" like world, or
take the red pill and see what reality is really like. Neo
chooses to take the pill and ventures into a world where
machines have taken over, and humanity is reduced to a small
rebel force fighting to reclaim their freedom.
This movie is like nothing that I have ever seen before.
Every aspect of it is revolutionary, from the plot, to the
effects, to the way the movie is done. This is one of the
most well executed movies of 1999, if not of the '90s, and
certainly will change the way that you think about
science-fiction movies, and movies in general.
Top-notch in every aspect. There is no sign of grain at
all, as there really shouldn't be for such a recent movie.
The majority of the movie is very dark, and this is
portrayed very well, with the colors being very deep and
This is definitely a movie that you will want as a demo
disc, and it doesn't disappoint here either. Both the
effects and the score are loaded with bass, and will use
your system to its greatest potential. Everything comes
through very clearly, with the effects sounding great, but
not overwhelming the dialogue.
The features on this disc compliment the movie very well,
providing a great deal of information about how the movie
was made. First, there is a commentary with Carrie-Anne
Moss, Editor Zach Staenberg and Special Effects Supervisor
John Gaeta. They provide a lot of information about the
making of the movie, but I really would have liked to see
Keanu Reeves and/or the Wachowski Brothers. This is for the
pure and simple fact that they would have contributed more
about the overall making of the movie, as opposed to just
the effects aspect of the movie. Also included is a
music-only track with commentary by composer Don Davis. I
always enjoy these tracks, and this one is no exception with
the quality music that was used in the film.
Next up are several making-of documentaries. The first
is an HBO produced documentary that is fairly equally
balanced between promotion and information, but if anything
does lean slightly toward the promotional side. That's not
a big deal, because the other documentaries that are
included are nothing but informative. The first is "What is
Bullet-Time?" and goes into extensive detail as to how the
groundbreaking bullet-time effects were created. The other
is "What is the Concept?" and is essentially an extended
featurette which, rather than having the cast and crew talk
about what happened, actually shows it through storyboards,
behind the scenes footage, etc.
The other documentaries are accessed through a way that
I'm not really crazy about. The "Follow the White Rabbit"
feature allows the viewer to click on a white rabbit icon
that will show up on the screen at various points throughout
the feature, and watch a brief (2-3 minute) clip of how the
scene was created. I favor just including the featurettes
on a separate menu, and allowing the viewer to access them
from there, but that's just a nit-pick on my part. The
documentaries are very informative, and definitely made me
feel like I knew more about the movie after watching them.
My other slight disappointment came from the realization
that there is no trailer included on the DVD. Well, that's
not exactly true. The trailer is included in the DVD-ROM
portion of the disc, along with some other features, but is
not included on the main portion of the disc. While text
features, and things like that can be restricted to DVD-ROM,
I tend to think that a trailer is generally a prerequisite
for inclusion on the DVD. Again, another small nit-pick on
This, while not necessarily being the best movie of 1999,
is certainly one of the most influential, and definitely one
that everyone should have on hand. It is a great movie, and
a fantastic demo disc. The sound and video are superb, and
the features are abundant and informative. High
(4/5, NOT included in
(4.5/5, NOT an average)